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Into this velvet hardness,
This tender harmony.
And  lava flame erupt shoots out
     into the magic tree.

We tend to define vulnerability as a weakness, something to be avoided at all costs. If we are vulnerable we are undefended and able to be hurt. If we show vulnerability we reveal we aren’t in control. In response to what we have learned in our culture that promotes, ‘I’m fine, I’m strong’ we put up armor that doesn’t allow anyone or anything in. We’ve put up walls to hide our innermost secrets and lies, our insecurities, our facades to the world. We’ve even built walls hiding deception to our own selves.

Avoiding vulnerability is a separation from others including the Gods. When you lose your ability to be vulnerable to others, everything you do becomes calculated. Even love and sex become items to be consumed rather than lived and shared. The invulnerable person can't be happy even in small ways. ¹ The invulnerable person may think they are strong but it is at the cost of an inner depression, a blurry pit that only guides one into loneliness and personal torment.

Vulnerability is about being open to love and new experiences. It’s about taking risks. It’s about being able to let go and say ‘I trust you. I trust that you won’t hurt me. I trust that we can love and share.’ It’s about starting to peek out from that armor, slowly removing piece by piece and shining our soul to the world. It’s about honoring another with our true selves, our thoughts and feelings.

Does this mean blurting out our innermost secrets to any and every one? No. True sharing of self requires a conversation. This is not only a sharing but a listening that in our fast paced internet MySpacing, texting, Facebooking, blogging society we’ve forgotten. We need to re-engage in reciprocity. Relearn how to communicate with others. Re-invent the afternoon coffee klatch, re-acquire a hankering for the old fashioned phone call where we hear each other’s voice.

This makes us stronger. It’s not a strength based on a power over others, it’s a strength based on a power shared, a power with others. A strength built on trust and rapport, two open to each other. A strength built on shared, reciprocal vulnerability.

In context with spirituality, I am strongly convinced vulnerability is a requirement to being able to sense, feel, or have contact with our Gods. Without letting go of that self defensive armor we can’t open up to the experience of our God/ess. We can’t let them into our hearts and souls. Sure, a God can bust in but generally they don’t. That would be akin to spiritual rape, our Gods aren’t cruel. They will patiently coax and wait, guide and steer us towards opening up chinks and finally dropping huge panels of that wall we’ve built. The initial open chink the Gods peek through may make us feel as though They have busted in but only because we aren’t comfortable with even the whisper of vulnerability.

I read a simile I’ll share here. Vulnerability can be illustrated by a tortoise. The tortoise is you with a shell of Armor. When scared, whether actually in danger or not, the tortoise tucks into its shell and waits. Who knows what wonders and joys the tortoise may actually be hiding from.

But if the tortoise is turned upside down it is vulnerable. It waits, hoping and trusting that someone will come along and help. In a sense, the tortoise desperately wants to say, ‘I trust you. I trust you with my vulnerability. I trust you to help.’ Most who pass by will help.² Most certainly those deserving of your vulnerability will. Your Gods definitely will.

Does this mean you’ll never be hurt? No. You will be hurt. Life hurts. I counter that we take a chance every day driving to the store to get that junk we don’t really need. Driving is one of the most dangerous things one can do- often just for snack food. Why not take that chance, with someone or a God who you intuitively know you can trust, when the rewards are so much more than a bag of Doritos? Use vulnerability wisely is the phrase here to remember.

The Gods are honored when we trust them enough to show our vulnerability to them, our innermost selves. Other people are also honored when we do such. You and they become empowered. This is willful vulnerability. Do you want to have a better sense of the world, a greater feel for the spirituality available to us? Show your vulnerability to others, give your vulnerability over to your Gods.

1 T. Byram Karasu, M.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mystery-happiness/201101/psychological-vulnerability-is-gentle-strength

2 http://www.guidespeak.com/printable.php?id=4976 

I saw something, not an hour ago, that made me sad.

I work in a small hospital. A man I see often was at the coffee stand. He is here frequently, I don't know his name but have seen him many times. He gets physical therapy here- he's in a wheelchair. I don't work in that department so I just see him at times in the cafeteria or as I pass the outpatient registration lounge. I smile, nod, we say hi. The exchanges people make who pass by often but haven't actually met. 

As he took his cup the barista said, 'Have a great day!' with her usual cheerful smile. That woman is almost too cheerful folks, but she is a pleasure when you come into work bleary eyed and in desperate need of caffeine.

So he looked at her as she smiled with her 'Have a great day!' and he said, 'I don't have great days. I just have days' before turning and wheeling away. It stopped me, made me so sad. What I heard was a choice. I didn't hear a man state a fact, I heard a man state a choice. Yes, he is in a wheelchair- I can't even begin to understand the difficulties. But I know others in wheelchairs who do have great days. Who have made the choice to live life to its fullest.

Of course this made me think. What choices have I made that prohibit me from the depth of happiness I could have? I'm a happy person, I have no qualms with my life. But, is there some choice I've made that I can choose to reverse? Some choice I can ferret out- some mental block that I can sweep away and have a fuller, more enriching life? I'm sure there is, I just have to find it.
'So, if all the reports say houses go up in flames in moments then why is this damn bookcase taking so long to light up?' I'm muttering and shaking my head. I was astonished actually. I'd been trying to burn that bookcase for quite a while and it was steadfastly refusing to go up in smoke.

It was a huge bookcase. About seven feet tall. An enormous, ugly, army green monolith that had been sitting in the middle of my garage forever. I'd been tripping over it, scooting around it, stacking stuff on top of it and had finally had it. It goes TODAY I had decided.

First I had to get the monstrosity out to the burn pile. It's too heavy to lift, too heavy to even drag. So there I was flipping it over and over covering the distance a couple feet at a time. I was determined. See, it was another of those items my near hoarder ex had brought home. Brought it home, then left it right in a walkway. Not even upright, laying flat and taking up the whole middle of the garage.

Then he never moved it because it was too heavy and he sure as hell didn't take it with him. So there I was stuck with it. I'd cleaned around it, gotten rid of a ton of other items but that green beast had remained.

So finally, there it was. On the burn pile. Actually, tilted on the concrete border of the pit because it is too damn big to fit inside. But good enough. So I build a fire next to it. I wait. Nope- wouldnt catch. I stoke that fire and build another inside between two of the shelves. Nope. No good. Built another underneath it. 'It's gotta burn now,'  I'm thinking. No- that damn bookcase steadfastly refused to do anything more than char.

I finally did what I should have done from the start. 'Loki... come help.'  Often Loki comes on His own to help with things but this time He didn't. I have to think it was partly due to this being something of the x's. He tends to stay out of some of those things, other than a few choice comments He had early on. The other part of His not volunteering to help is simply because some things we just need to do for ourselves. Sometimes there are things we need to recognize and deal with on our own. A modicum of self reliance is important- no one grows when wallowing in dependance.

He walks beside me, 'We'll see what happens babe, it may not (light).'  He's being nice, He often is when I've been flustered by something. Acts and speaks as though He may not be able to accomplish the task either. He does this when in husband mode... just maybe a husband with a few extra talents.

He takes a look, has me adjust a few things. Then He just stands by it, looking at the fire with those eyes just a bit too big for a human form, those eyes that tell the tale and whoosh! Up in roaring flames. He doesn't even look pleased, no big. I'm not as close, its hot near the fire and He comes to join me where I am sitting. We stand, watch the fire for a while. Then He says, 'It's good your taking care of it.'

I realize that fecking bookcase had become a last, vestigal annoyance, a final symbol to a life I had before. The kind of thing one leaves as a memento. That picture in the bottom of the box, that random note or item stuffed in a back corner. The thing you don't let go of after life changes. It's there so long you don't even notice it anymore but it niggles away in your mind. You can't ever get over something, you can't ever move on.

I'm not talking about baby pictures or other small sentimental keepsakes. I'm talking about those things that hold you back. Those unconscious subtle tags that say, 'You're it, this is it. Things are the same.' GK once wrote to me that sentimentality is sheer indulgence. To a point I agree. There is nothing wrong with hanging on to that graduation cap if it aides in remembering that sense of achievement.

There IS something wrong with keeping items around that only burden, that trip you up every time you walk by, things you stack new ways on top of precariously, items that force you to maneuver around every time you wish to move forward. Sometimes we leave those things around semi-purposely. For whatever reason, we indulge ourselves with something that will hold us back and prevent us from flying. Flight can be terrifying.

So we stood there and watched it burn. I grabbed some other branches and prunings that needed to flame and threw them on top intermittantly but most of the time just watched, steadily being unburdened as surely as the smoke rose, Loki by my side. We didn't really talk- just watched the flames and when it was burnt, when the bookcase was no more, we walked side by side into the house.

What mementos do you have?
by Russell Hansen. Click on the picture for his website.
There are quite a few blogs and websites out there right now about Loki. Most are people, primarily women, describing their own learning process regarding their devotion to Him. Doesn't matter how the blog is described or candy coated- that's what is revealed in the writings. This is wonderful, writing is an absolutely fantastic forum for one to sort through their emotions, index their thoughts, get in touch with their own boundaries and limits. I write. I'm not a prolific blogger- anyone can see that. But I journal daily, about a 1000 pages a year. It's valuable, it's become my book of shadows. Songs the Gods sing to me, techniques, jokes, stories, my thoughts, things I've learnt. All in there in my trusty little hard drive.

I do have some critique of the plethora of blogs though. It's not going to win me many friends or points but I think the statements need to be said- primarily to the readers. See, I've had quite a few emails, IMs, and flat out phone calls. People get confused. The deal here is that everyone has a unique experience with a deity. Doesn't matter which one, this really isn't a 'Loki' issue though He is the example here.

The questions I get tend to range from, 'But they are describing Him like He's a bar buddy? Is that really how Lokeans feel about their God?' to 'I don't have a relationship like that and want to- what am I doing wrong?' Crap. The former is fairly easy to explain. Loki comes as He comes to people. Some need that joshing friend in a God, others don't. Gods will use what is needed to get through to a person.

The latter however, that's where it gets hard. These people are usually struggling with their own issues, struggling with their own devotions, working so hard to develop that connection with their God. Then along comes this site talking about this that and the other thing and bang! The poor dear reader now thinks they are doing something wrong or they are just hurt badly. Some literally become wounded inside and it breaks my heart- hence this post.

I'm not going to get into whether people should be putting up their blogs. Everyone has different reasons. Fine and dandy. But what I will say- If reading a blog causes you to doubt your faith and ability to connect with your God then DON'T READ THE BLOG!!!

Do I need to repeat that? Yes. DON'T READ THE BLOG IF IT CAUSES YOU PAIN!!

Now I know that is hard. It's like watching a feckin' train wreck. You can't take your eyes off, you can't get that blog out of your favorites list. 'Oh my, but what is going to happen next?' But really folks, if what you read there causes suffering and angst, then don't.

We CANNOT compare our experiences and relationships with our deities. Sure, we can share stories when we feel inclined, but what I mean here is that we can't internalize another's experience and think that's how it 'should' be. It isn't. We can't compare another's blog to our own living experience when it becomes the detriment of our own spirituality. 

Now I'm not saying there aren't some high quality blogs out there. There most definitely are. Some share great insights- four off the top of my head include Gangleri's Grove, The Fruit of Pain, House of Vines, and KenazFilan.blogspot.com. There are others- I don't want anyone to be offended if you don't see yourself on the list.

Everyone has the ability to have an amazing and unique connection. Amazing and unique because it is what that person needs then. No, not everyone will be able to *see* or *touch* a God. Maybe those that can need the additional stimulus in order to have belief. Maybe it's an accident of birth, different wiring. Doesn't make anyone better or superior.  It doesn't. It just is.

Every seeker has their own path. It is a beautiful and wonderful path that leads to discoveries each person just has to find on their own. Those personal truths won't be found in another's blog. They are only found when the time and effort is made. Blog trolling isn't really learning and connecting with a God. It's passive entertainment. If it entertains- that's fine. If it substantiates some gnosis you had concerns over, wonderful. If you do find value, great!!!

But, if you feel worse and worse and note that after reading the next installment you question yourself even more then just stop. It's an addiction you don't need. Take that time and instead invest it in yourself and your deity. Make that deal- 'instead of reading blogs today I'm going to devote that hour to you, my God. I'm going to light your candle, meditate on who you are, reach out and do my best to feel your grace and presence.'

You'll get a lot further in your own connection with your God if you just turn that computer off.